Friday, May 1, 2015

Summer Cinema: Avengers Age of Ultron

It's not technically summer but according to Hollywood, it sure as heck is as Avengers: Age of Ultron hit theaters last night to the tune of $27 million bucks and an anticipated $200 + million weekend. After a surprisingly substantial happy hour at P.F. Changs, we joined the legions of graphic tee clad movie goers for a 7:00 PM showing in 3D. Trailers for Batman Vs Superman, Jurassic World, Ant-Man and Tomorrow Land got us going even though there were 3D trailers mixed in with no warning, come on Arclight!

Age of Ultron opens up at Baron Von Strucker's secret castle lair out in the woods where he's used Loki's alien powered scepter to enhance European twins Wanda and Pietro Maximoff. Now Wanda (Scarlett Witch in the comics) can do crazy stuff with her mind while Pietro (Quicksilver) is super fast. The Avengers (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, The Hulk and Hawkeye) have been looking high and low for the scepter and finally retrieve it but not before they're all mind jacked by Wanda. They have individual visions of their past and futures, not all of them sunny. Back in NYC, science bros Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to unlock the power of the scepter before it's returned to Asgard. They're also working on some artificial intelligence to create a "suit of armor" for the world which goes haywire and becomes Ultron, a huge robot with a twisted sense of humor who wants to destroy the Avengers and then the world. Lots of banter, action, hero team up smash moves, a little romance and world trotting follows. It was nice to see all of the characters getting things to do (Hawkeye becomes a much more central character) and there's some nice bromance between Cap and Thor and even Iron Man. New characters The Scarlett Witch, Quicksilver and The Vision are used to various degrees, basically there to fill a function and add some special f/x mayhem.

I had conflicted feelings watching Avengers, it was big and entertaining but it just wasn't that engrossing? Between the non-stop quips and jokes, as is Marvel's style to provide laughs but also cuts any tension, then the random stopovers and realizations (they get beat up then go to a farm house a la Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Splinterrrrrr!) or the ending where they fight a bunch of Ultron Storm Troopers civilian pedestrian traffic. Hmmmm. Thor goes on a random side mission while Quicksilver was used to much more effectively in X-Men: Days of Future Past. There's something very unheroic about a gearing up scene where a guy grabs a pair of Adidas sneakers..."Do you know karate? You do karate, man?" Double hmmm. We also get an Asian character! Who doesn't do much then goes away...Anyways, I was also pulled out of the movie by the absolutely sub-par 3D non-experience the Arclight provided. Their glasses are heavy and bulky and it was so dark with the glasses on I literally kept flipping them up to see people on screen with actual skin and flesh tones instead of a gray haze. Just another reminder that Hollywood hasn't figured it out. I'd like to see the flick again on a bigger screen and in 2D.

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